- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 7, 2004

Crucial tests to establish whether Yasser Arafat is brain dead have not been carried out by a Paris hospital, a French newspaper reported yesterday, leading to claims that doctors are under pressure to delay tests to determine his condition.

In France, a patient can be declared brain dead only after a series of strict clinical tests. They include two brain scans — either two EEGs performed four hours apart or an EEG and an artery scan showing no blood flowing to the brain.

According to the newspaper, Liberation, Mr. Arafat, 75, underwent only one brain scan on Thursday, which showed a blood-flow failure. The required second scan was reportedly not carried out.

The Percy military hospital, where the ailing leader was taken from the West Bank on Oct. 29, did not respond yesterday to queries from the Sunday Telegraph about the second scan. However, a senior Palestinian adviser, Nabil Abu Rudeina, denied that Mr. Arafat was beyond recovery, saying his condition remained critical but not hopeless.

During the past 40 years, Mr. Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization has built up a global empire of investments, worth an estimated $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion.

A Palestinian legislator yesterday called for Mr. Arafat’s financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, who controls a network of PLO accounts, to be investigated over the money. Abdul Jawwad Saleh, a leading independent member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, wants Mr. Rashid to be questioned at the organization’s Ramallah headquarters.

Mr. Rashid, who left Ramallah some months ago, is in Paris. Hassan Khreishe, another legislative council member, said Mr. Rashid would be held to account.

Mr. Saleh is also calling for Mr. Arafat’s wife, Suha, who is said to be a business partner of Mr. Rashid’s, to be questioned.

“Mr. Arafat’s situation has presented a chance for us to question Mohammed Rashid,” he said. “He knows better than anyone else the whereabouts of all the money, all the secret accounts. This is the people’s money.”

Last year, the International Monetary Fund said Mr. Arafat had diverted $1 billion or more of Palestinian Authority funds from 1995 to 2000.

Meanwhile, conflicting reports about Mr. Arafat’s condition have fueled rumors that he was poisoned by Israeli agents. Dr. Hisham Ahmed, a member of Mr Arafat’s Fatah faction, said a bodyguard told him that the Palestinian leader had whispered: “This time, they got me.”

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